Aaaaaaand rai warrants his own response again
Quoted from rai:
Kevin, you said I come up with the 'big' questions. I don't know if that's code for saying I'm a big pain in the ass or what? j/k
No, not a pain in the ass, but a lot of you guys hold me to a pretty high standard, and your posts seem to get straight to it when there's a 'real' question to be answered
Quoted from rai:
If you were asked to respond to the notion that your pin looks 'home made' or 'home brew' or looks like it was made by two guys in their basement etc... In other words not said in a nice way as if to say: it's got a cool theme, but it's 'home brew...'
That's a tough one. I remember thinking the same thing when I played the first Data East machines back in the day, and thinking the same thing about both Alvin G and Capcom when they jumped into making games. I would hope that these ideas are related, in the fact that anything being done 'differently' automatically appears to be half-assed or foreign in some way. Time has shown Data East did perfectly fine for themselves and ended up cementing a lot of things we take for granted in pinball these days, and Alvin G and Capcom games have held up very well over the years. Maybe not so much economically, with most Alvin G games hovering around the $1000 mark last I checked and Pinball Magic ended up being Capcom's only game to really get 'manufactured' except for Breakshot, which was just an awful game, but as far as their construction, they were all solid in their own right. Again, I'm hoping that people saying Predator feels homebrew is just a simple case of feeling a bit different. The only other thing I would point out on this discussion is that it's probably the only public game that has had every aspect of it directly handled and overseen by a single person, so it might have turned out a little differently as a whole package than other games have. Not to say there wasn't a lot of help involved along the way, but everything you see on Predator was either designed and done by me, personally, or was directly overseen and directed by me to the end you see today. I don't really know if any other game has been built this way or not, but that might have something to do with it.
Quoted from rai:
First, let me say I have not seen the game myself, just video and pictures. Since we were talking about JJP, lets call WoZ the exact opposite of 'home brew' more like if JJP is the Tesla (car manufacturer) of Pinball, all new components, new guts, new this new that. Raising the bar, rewriting the book whatever you want to call it.
It's hard to not consider JJP 'home brew' in the sense that they went and designed just about everything new, but considering their approach with enlisting so much top-notch, well-established talent and resources, I can see what you mean. But then...
Quoted from rai:
Now on the other end of the spectrum is Skit-B and Predator with a tiny fraction of a budget compared to Woz, yet you are trying to get to the same destination. That is (to steal a phrase from Stern) 'Real Pinball'.
Make no mistake, we get the majority of our parts from the same people and places that WoZ gets their parts from, with all the same quality and just as robust. I think the most present difference in how we are perceived differently comes from the budget. JJP set his sights on creating the most advanced and complex machine ever built, and I don't think I'm alone in feeling like he succeeded heavily in that regard. We never once wanted to 'take the pinball world by storm' and introduce a machine that would blow away anyone who played it or came near it. We wanted to take away the terrible trend of boring game rules and non-tournament-friendly tables and reestablish a good, deep game based not on the number of shots and toys you could fit in it, but based on shots that feel good and software to back it up and make you think when you play a game. But most of all, the focus of Predator was to make a game that is balanced and tournament-viable with no randomization or punished successful shots. I know that got soap-boxy for a second there, but the point I'm eventually driving to is that it didn't take a hell of a lot of budget to do that, it took a ton of creativity and the hope that I might know what I'm doing when designing a game If you remove the budget of paying salaries to some of the greatest known minds in pinball and also remove the budget of designing a ton of super-complex circuit boards and their dependencies, pardon the expression but you save a metric shit-ton right there.
We have the best in the industry giving their best efforts to make sure that when our games go out, they are the absolute best they can be, because in all seriousness, their success is directly related to ours. If any one of the systems in our games fail, people will know it and it will reflect on the companies and people that provided those systems and they all know it and give us their absolute best. There are already so many talented people that tackle every last angle of this industry that are having-a-go at making a living off of it, that it makes no sense to ignore that talent and dedication.
Quoted from rai:
I have seen with computer games, you don't need a million dollars to make a great PC game. Not sure if you are into PC games but there are indie games such as 'Minecraft' or 'Super Meat Boy' which have been made on a shoe string budget and don't have the visual graphics of top development games. But these low budget games can be better than the million dollar games in many cases.
By today's standards, Duke Nukem, Mortal Kombat and Quake could be considered 'indie' games, and look what they did. Minecraft is a great example where the idea was WAY more important than he marketing, and what a difference it made. Hell, along these same lines, Facebook was made by five guys in college. Marketing is powerful stuff, but sometimes not even a lack of marketing can hold something back. While I'm on this rant, I'll also mention that Krispy Kreme Donuts have never paid for advertising and who the hell doesn't know what a Krispy Kreme is? All I'm saying is something doesn't need to be a sensation for it to be awesome and appreciated, but it sure is nice to see the little guys totally make it
Quoted from rai:
So, long way to my question right? But the question is, if you put Predator next to say T2 (say we had a supply of NIB T2 games out there) how would Predator fare next to that other Arnold movie pin? I picked T2 as an example for to me, Predator while being a 21st century game is kind of retro with the 27 year old movie, kind of retro PF artwork etc..
First of all, the similarities to T2 were not purposely done, but the retro-ish art direction was deliberate. If you were to put Predator against T2 just for the sake of comparison and contrast, Predator feels MUCH more modern and you have a lot more on your mind while you play it. T2 is fun, but is kind of shallow at the end of the day, when you think about it. Running ramps to line-up Payback Time and constantly readying multiball is all you've really got to do in T2, outside of maybe pumping up your left-loop to get those rewards up there. In Predator you have to keep track of how many hunts you have made, how many hunt attempts you have left, which characters you've eliminated, how many locks you've made, which mode is ready, how many times you've lit mystery, the list goes on. In T2 if you can reliably nail super jackpots, you own that game, and while getting those supers isn't necessarily 'easy,' it most definitely is something you can 'get used to.' To my knowledge, there isn't anything like that in Predator.
Quoted from rai:
Or we put Predator right next to Stern Star Trek pro (just picked another 'ballpark' game due to price and relevance in the same era of production). How would we stack up Predator to ST (or MET or some other Stern game if you have played them?).
I've got to be honest here, and say that Stern games have been exponentially losing my interest since Lord of the Rings, save for a few titles, so I might not be the best person to ask this question. That being said, I'll be as objective as possible. The inherent problems with a lot of Stern titles is their need to pack more and more stuff onto the table. I know a lot of people really like that 'bang for your buck' aspect of Stern games, but I never have and I'm banking on the thought that there have to be people like me out there who miss clean, flowing games, and that thought is ever-backed-up by the IPDB Top Ten, which rarely shows anything other than Williams/Bally titles that follow that same thought pattern. Anyways, with packing so much stuff onto the table, in the form of both shots and toys, the experience becomes not only incredibly execution-intensive (being able to make tight shots, etc) but extremely random, at times. A lot of you will remember my rant about Transformers being unplayable at a tournament level, and I stand by that. A ball lock that fires out at a sling shot? That means two different people who make the same shot will end up with different results on the SAME machine. Metallica has a shot to the far lower-left that returns to the left inlane, but will sometimes drain out the outlane and, last I played, there was no software in place to combat that. Star Trek is the hardest for me to talk about in this regard, for a lot of reasons, but the most objective of them is the center shot. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why they thought just releasing the ball in the dead-center of the playfield was a good idea. You won't find any of that stuff in a Skit-B title, ever.
I'll give you less polished than WoZ visually, and many Stern games do look fantastic, but I can objectively say that Predator can stand next to any of them. After all of the criticism, both good and bad, we have seen with our playfield art, I have to wonder how people feel about Star Trek's minimalist approach to playfield art. WoZ is insanely pretty, and I've spent about half this post pretty much explaining that we're never going to that level of presentation for a lot of reasons, so I'll just leave it at that. As far as directly comparing Predator to this other short list of games, I'll sum it up like this:
Predator was designed and built to evolve games like Terminator 2, and to outshine games like ST or Met in terms of playability, accessibility and fun factor.